Weekly Meal Prep

In my previous post I shared with you how I plan my meals to reduce the stress of cooking for a family while working a full-time job, having a newly acquired blogging addiction, and trying to balance all of the activities our kids are involved in while still maintaining a lifestyle that includes home cooked meals and family meal time at the table rather than on the go.

In addition to planning my meals in advance, I also prepare as much of each meal ahead of time as I possibly can. This helps to reduce the amount of time spent in the kitchen during our busy weeknight schedule.

Here’s what I did Sunday to prepare for the week:

I cooked and portioned out separately all of the meat for each meal on my weekly menu. Once cooled I vacuum sealed, labeled, and refrigerated.

I chopped all of my vegetables, divided appropriately, vacuum sealed, labeled and refrigerated

I prepared the sauces for each meal on my weekly menu.

I assembled the Hawaiian Ham Sammies, covered with foil and placed in the refrigerator. The only thing Kevin had to do was throw the casserole dish covered in foil in the oven while I drove home with the kids. We were able to walk in to dinner almost ready.

With this strategy I chopped once, and cooked the bulk of each meal ahead of time. There will be some assembly required throughout the week, but it’s much easier for me to handle the assembly after the prep work has been done. I can throw together a casserole, baked ziti, etc. before work and it’s ready for the oven on my way home, or easy to throw everything together in just a few minutes in a skillet on the stove.

Although not everyone loves spending an afternoon in the kitchen, I hope you find these tips helpful. I’d love to know if you give this method a try, hear more about how you plan your meals, and share ideas.

Meal Planning

Do you find yourself tired at the end of the day and overwhelmed with the age-old question…”Mom, what’s for dinner?” With three kids in school, activities, homework, etc. I have found that if I don’t plan ahead, we end up eating cereal or grilled cheese. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with either of those!

I have developed a system in our home to try to eliminate that stress, and our intake of overly processed food. I’ll explain in detail, and hope that you will share your system on meal planning with me.

Every few months the family sits down together and makes a list of some of our favorite meals. We do this because tastes change, we want to try new things, and depending on the season, some of our choices just don’t work. I use this list as a reference point to plan our meals weekly. I am also constantly on the lookout for new recipes, so sometimes I deviate from the family list and try something new.

Every week I plan our meals out for the entire week.
Here’s what is on the menu this week:
Monday- Hawaiian Ham Sammies with Macaroni Salad
Tuesday- Beef Noodle Casserole with Fruit Salad
Wednesday- Baked Ziti with Garlic Toast and Salad
Thursday-Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells with Fresh Fruit
Friday- Sloppy Joe’s and Tater Tots
Saturday- Smothered Italian Chicken with Garlic Buttered Spaghetti, Green Beans, Garlic Toast

I use our weekly menu to make our grocery list, accounting for lunches, baked items, and healthy snacks.

I have found that if I make the list from my planned meals, I spend less money at the grocery store, and avoid last-minute trips.

A little planning goes a long way.  I’ll explain in my next post the next step to this process.  I usually spend Sunday afternoon doing as much of the prep work as I can for the upcoming week, but more about that later 🙂